Vodacom revamps m-pesa in South Africa

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Vodacom’s mobile wallet, m-pesa, enables customers to send and receive money, buy airtime, deposit or withdraw cash and pay for goods and services at over 240 000 merchant outlets in South Africa. The mobile wallet, which allows money transfers, has been revamped and tailored to meet the needs of South Africans. It is now easier to sign-up for, and to use.

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Customers can self-register for m-pesa using their mobile phones, by dialing *111#, select m-pesa and follow the prompts. The service is available to customers with a South African ID book and who are older than 16 years.

Customers that register via their phones to use the mobile wallet can transact for up to R1000 per a day or R25 000 per month. Customers will pay as little as R1 to send money, while making deposits and receiving money are free. Vodacom users are also rewarded with free airtime when they transact using m-pesa.

To add greater functionality to m-pesa Vodacom has also introduced a chip and pin protected Visa card as well as a voucher system to upload cash. This Visa card is optional and available at Vodacom outlets, spaza shops and at selected retailers.

The Visa card will allow customers to pay for goods and services at any of the 240 000 merchants or make withdrawals at 27, 000 ATMs across South Africa.

There are no monthly fees. The card costs R9.95 once-off and customers will receive R20 worth of airtime when they purchase the card. The Visa card unlocks the ability for customers to transact for up to R5 000 per a day or at a limit of R25 000 per month. Visa card users will also be able to pay for purchases at any store that accept card payments.

It is easy to load the m-pesa mobile wallet or card by purchasing a m-pesa voucher in denominations of R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. Customers simply dial *111#, select m-pesa and follow the prompts to key in the m-pesa voucher code. The funds are then loaded into the m-pesa wallet.

“We realized that to make m-pesa really attractive to the market, we had to ensure its widespread availability. The plan is to have a m-pesa agent within hundreds of meters to where customers live and work so that they don’t have to take a taxi to use the service. The service is easily accessible at more than 8, 000 agents at both informal outlets and at major retail partners. We intend to grow that figure to around 30, 000 points of presence by the end of the year,” said Herman Singh, Vodacom’s Managing Executive M-Commerce.

“Besides a wider distribution, there will be multiple benefits to everyone,” he added.

For example, children over the age of 16 years, with an ID document can self-register so that they can use the Visa card to withdraw cash or make purchases. Parents will soon be able to provide sponsored cards to their children who are below 16 years for use at a school tuck shop.

Vodacom subscribers who are not signed up can redeem m-pesa payments at any m-pesa outlet nationwide. These include Vodacom shops, Vodacom 4U stores, spaza shops, and selected retailers.

In addition to enabling registration at 500 Vodacom stores, Vodacom has identified key hotspots such as taxi ranks and retail outlets to set up FICA hubs. There are about 500 mobile FICA agents who can upgrade customers’ m-pesa accounts.

“m-pesa has the potential to transform how South Africans manage their money,” said Singh. “Our
33 million customers in SA already trust Vodacom for their communication needs every day. m-pesa is a logical extension of this, combining the benefits of mobile payments with the real-world practicality of a debit card.”

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